Updated 05/10/2011 10:41 AM
Same-sex marriage advocates rally in Albany
More than 1,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people came to Albany to advocate for same-sex marriage in New York. Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman has more from West Capitol Park.
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ALBANY, N.Y. -- As hundreds of advocates descended on Albany Monday to rally and lobby for gay marriage legalization, one person was noticeably absent. Instead of Governor Andrew Cuomo addressing a crowd of same-sex marriage advocates Monday morning, it was Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy who reiterated Cuomo's support for gay marriage.
"I want to make one thing perfectly clear. Nobody in this state should ever question or underestimate Governor Cuomo's commitment to marriage equality. It is a top issue. The governor has made marriage equality one of his top three legislative priorities this year," Duffy said.
Duffy told us after the speech that Cuomo couldn't make the event because of his schedule. He also said his address was part of the governor's plan to deploy members of his administration in order to drum up support for gay marriage, along with a property tax cap and an ethics bill. Gay marriage advocates, including Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Ross Levi, said they didn't feel snubbed by the governor's absence, either.
"This is one of the only social issues he mentioned in the State of the State. He is literally going around the state, this is one of the three issues he's taking about. We thrilled by his support of gay marriage equality and LGBT equality and justice," Levi said.
Cuomo has had a historically tense relationship with the gay community. But after he successfully pushed through deep cuts in spending for education, health care and social services, the legalization of same-sex marriage would help him shore up support in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Still, finding the votes in the Republican-led Senate may be difficult.
"I think this is really an issue that is personal, personal conscience and as I've said all along, members will vote the way they wish to vote," said Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
Cuomo will also have to convince several senators in both parties to support the bill. One Republican on the fence is freshman Senator Mark Grisanti of Buffalo.
"It's a strong issue on both sides, so it's something that internally I have to make this decision on. I'm still looking at the information," Grisanti said.
Cuomo has said he wants the legislature to approve a gay marriage bill by the time lawmakers wrap up their work in June. However, the governor is yet to introduce a bill on the issue.